Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mardi Hurrah! Fire along Parade Route Doesn't Melt Spirits of Laid-Back Soulard Crowd

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mardi Hurrah! Fire along Parade Route Doesn't Melt Spirits of Laid-Back Soulard Crowd

Article excerpt

THE 1997 MARDI GRAS Grand Parade may be remembered as the fire-and-ice one.

What has grown over the past 18 years to be the area's second-largest parade (after the downtown St. Patrick's Day affair) started with an overnight dusting of snow. The frost glazed the traditional purple, gold and green of the Mardi Gras festivities in the Soulard neighborhood.

Then, midway through the scheduled two-hour parade, a spectacular engine fire in a van pulling a float caused the rest of the 170-plus units to be rerouted and eventually canceled. With the fire delaying floats and other marching units, the crowds at the end of the 17-block route began to disperse, thinking the parade was over. Many floats never got off the starting blocks. "No points for pyrotechnics," joshed one of the announcers at the reviewing stand. Celebrity judges at the end of the route, on Seventh Street near Soulard Street, were marking up their choices for best floats. They and the chilled crowds lining Seventh had to hurry past firefighters dousing the van fire to the parade's alternate route, on Russell Boulevard. Soon the judges gave up, and the rest of the parade was canceled. The outcome of the incident, which luckily was without any injuries, typified the laid-back, humorous bent of Soulard's Mardi Gras parade. The abbreviated 1 p.m. parade, threatened by the 0.6 of an inch of snowfall and daytime temperatures that managed to rise to 31 degrees, still drew a respectable 140,000 souls, organizers estimated. Once the van was put out, its float gained an unintended irony. The small float was a papier-mache model of the nearby Gravois Church of God, with its signature steeple in the shape of a lighthouse. It sat forlornly behind the scorched hulk with its sign reading "We'll leave the light on for ya." Despite the fire, Russell Boulevard was jam-packed. Tim Wells and Mary Giannini, visiting medical students from Indianapolis, applauded the informal, un-grand atmosphere of the Grand Parade, which they compared to those at New Orleans' Mardi Gras. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.